Archive for the ‘Book in Progress 2016’ Category

  • Alternative Approaches to Creative Writing (now titled: How Dare We! Write

    Date: 2017.05.07 | Category: Book in Progress 2016 | Response: 0

    Alternative Approaches to Creative Writing:  a writer’s journey Or, perhaps Alternative Text for Creative Writers: a university instructor’s curriculum, or perhaps any number of titles I’ve conjured.  For several years I’ve been asking the question what colorful writer has written a book about writing.  Recently I discovered Black Lightning:  poetry-in-Progress, edited by Eileen Tabios, an excellent anthology containing interviews of Asian American writers of poetry and working drafts of their poems.  My publisher was willing to, with permission, republish the now out-of-print anthology, but it would have been a tremendous undertaking in terms of practicality; instead, he said “write the book.”

    Anyone who knows me knows that anyone that says I can do something knows I am going to say, “But I can’t.” Self-deprecation.  “What do I know?”  But I clung to the idea. Recently I read Tiger Writing, by Gish Jen, but, even though I’m an academic, I felt I had to work too hard to make use of it.  I wanted a book about the craft of writing that was accessible, yet dispelled various myths of what it takes to be a creative writer, that could also be used as a classroom text book.

    Now that I’ve put it out into the world that I am going to write this book myself (though I hold my breath patiently knowing David Mura is working on a creative writing text that I know will make me weep with joy), a friend said that Jewel Parker Rhodes (Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons For Black Authors  and The African American Guide to Writing & Publishing Non Fiction and Walter Mosley, Black writers, have also written books about writing and their books are now on my wish list!   But, there’s room for many more creative writing texts, especially by writers of color and any writers who just might have “alternative” views about writing.

    I told my publisher “I can’t” until I decided one day that I could, inspired by thoughtful questions participants in the 2015-2016 Loft Mentorship Series asked me about my writing, that despite my initial hesitation and self-talk (what do I know, even about my own writing)I was able to answer with astounding confidence and credibility.  I told Victor, maybe I do know something.  He said, “It’s about time you acknowledge it. Write the book.”

    Afterword:  it’s been three months since my publisher, Victor Volkman, Modern History Press, said, “write it.”  For three months I’ve been mulling over a book title and chapter titles, and have written nothing.  But, as 2015 came to a close, a friend and former student and I discussed the book she’d been re-visioning for a number of years.  Our discussion motivated me to write what might be the last chapter, or not, in this book which for now will continue to be aka (also known as).  My friend, who actually named one of my earlier books, suggested The Problem with Convenience-which I love, and with a more specific subtitle just might work.

    To end this too lengthy introduction, my publisher and I agreed that posting chapters, as I write them, on my much too ignored, blog,, would be worthwhile.  In this regard, know that the chapters are drafts (grammar and punctuation are not necessarily skills honed by me and will take time to perfect).  But, eventually, my copyrighted posts will transform into a publishable book.  (By the way, I got this idea from a former student who has been blogging every day for several years and her blog posts became chapbooks published by Red Bird Chapbooks-  I’m a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that I learn from my students, and I’m motivated by them.)

    ©Sherry Quan Lee, January 9, 2016

  • Sometimes the Easy Way Out is Not All That Easy or Why I (really) Chose to Edit an Anthology

    Date: 2016.12.30 | Category: Book in Progress 2016, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    Sometimes the Easy Way Out is Not All That Easy or Why I (really) Chose to Edit an Anthology


    The truth is I have wanted a book by a writer or writers of color (WOC) about the craft of writing for my own personal use as a WOC, and as a teacher of creative writing.  I was slow to admit that “craft” wasn’t necessarily what I was searching for.  I wanted confirmation that my experiences as a WOC weren’t unique, that I learned more from preparing to teach than having been taught, that words I used such as “passing jones” were okay to use even if certain people didn’t know the meaning of the word or if I was redefining the word, that just because someone else thought writing about race wasn’t trendy my stories were valid and valuable, and the list goes on.  When my publisher said to write the book I so desired, I eventually said yes.  But then I didn’t.  I asked, can I edit an anthology?  Again, he said, yes.  It’s true, I knew writers whose stories would fulfill my idea of a book by writers of color that would break the boundaries of craft or at least broaden the definition of it.  But, it is also true I didn’t feel like I knew enough, and couldn’t write well enough to write the book that I wanted to read— perhaps, because I’ve always felt stupid.  And even though some of you may be sighing and saying I’m not stupid, there is a fine line between what I know to be true and what others believe to be true.

    Nevertheless, I have just printed a copy of How Dare We! Write for an overall read before I push send and deliver the manuscript to our copy editor.  As a literary editor, I have never before edited an anthology.  Even though I thought an anthology would be easier than authoring my own book about writing, it wasn’t all that easy; I had much to learn.

    It was easy (okay, somewhat easy) to invite writers to submit their stories; it wasn’t easy to set and keep deadlines.

    It was easy to suggest the main theme of the anthology; it wasn’t easy to organize the many sub themes the stories brilliantly provided.

    It was easy to look at each story individually; it wasn’t easy to view the book in its entirety.

    It was easy to correspond with the group as a whole; it wasn’t easy to keep track of the 100s of individual emails that began back in May of 2016.

    I may have chosen editing an anthology over writing my personal writing/teaching journey because of my insecurity, but also because I was tired of my small world, of writing about myself (and as baby boomer it seems my time may be limited); there were writers I knew that had stories that needed to be told—24 stories versus one just made sense.

    What keeps me moving forward, trying to maintain self-imposed goals for completion of How Dare We! Write-handing the complete manuscript to the publisher the first week in February- is the enthusiasm for the project by the publisher, the writers, and the copy editor.  Word-of-mouth, there are already writers wanting this book, as far away as Norway I am told.


Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.








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